Friday, January 9, 2009

Healthy Aspirations

One of the great words of energy in life is the word, “Aspiration”. Our aspirations, when connected in a healthy way with the aspirations of others are two sides of the same coin. An article I read this morning, written by Chris Creegan of the National Center of Social Research, had the following points regarding the dangers of excessive individualism:

• During people's lives, opportunities can be truncated: lost, limited or wasted through circumstances and events that they have varying degrees of control over.
• Truncation of opportunity prevents aspirations from being realized. The relationship between opportunity and aspiration is a more level playing field for some of us than for others.
• We need to reframe the relationship between opportunity and aspiration – thinking not only about the opportunities and aspirations of individual citizens, but also of society as a whole.
• We cannot achieve this without listening to people whose voices are not usually heard, including those directly affected by the inequality caused by truncated opportunity.
• Truncation of opportunity can take many forms. For example, opportunities can be lost in old age, limited by caring responsibilities, or wasted through drug or alcohol misuse.
• The reality is that, whether loss of opportunity is caused by imposed constraints or individual choices, if you are disadvantaged through poverty and inequality the limitations imposed are greater and the escape routes fewer.
• While poverty of aspiration is a serious problem, impoverished aspiration can also fuel excessive individualism, consumerism and greed, which exacerbates inequality.
• Reframing the relationship between opportunity and aspiration must include listening to those with experience of truncated opportunity.
• Democracy is becoming deeply eroded. Making sure everyone votes provides a democratic safety net and is one important way of eliciting voices which are often unheard.
• We need a society where individual aspirations for a better life and shared aspirations for equality are not mutually exclusive, but two sides of the same coin.

It seems to me that I need to be careful to not be truncating the aspirations of others by forcing them into compliance with my vision. I will do better to find shared aspirations and find ways to make healthy connections with biblically based vision. Let’s press toward the right things today.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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